Hi, I’m Larry Cummings, CEO of Medical Research Charities.
Non-profit organizations are getting some surprising attention in this Presidential campaign. Both nominees are deeply involved in foundations bearing their name that are now receiving scrutiny. Questions about these two foundations really warrant a broader discussion of how nonprofits conduct themselves.
Last year individuals in the US donated over $64 billion to charities. Corporations and foundations donated another $300 billion on top of this. That’s a huge amount of money… and not all of it is being well spent.
With 500,000 charities in the US, many with similar sounding names, it’s easy to confuse a poorly performing charity or even a fraudulent one from the very best. Certain government agencies do conduct investigations, which occasionally uncover unscrupulous activity where donors have been scammed. But these efforts are limited, most charity oversight falls to the consumer and to not-for-profit organizations like Guidestar & Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator recently reviewed the financial health of dozens of breast cancer organizations and found that while they have been very successful in generating support, raising more than one and a half billion dollars annually, the disparity in their financial health and practices was enormous.
The report stated that several charities “efficiently utilize donations to pursue their mission,” but others would “astound donors with their inefficient operations and low marks for accountability and transparency.”
One organization spent over 90% of its budget on fundraising, while four others spent less than 50% of their revenue on programs and services.
Think about it… would you rather have 90% of your donation go to pay for fundraising, or to support life-saving research?
Here’s how Medical Research Charities can help you:
As a federation of the most reputable charities seeking successful treatments and cures, “we put our charities under a microscope so you don’t have to.”
For example, our partner The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the highest rated breast cancer organization in America with both an A+ from Charity Watch and the top four-star rating from Charity Navigator. The scores reflect their efficiency and transparency as a non-profit.
So how do we identify the best charities? Here are things we look at:
- The percent of their total expenses spent on program; percent spent on fundraising; and management; and total expenses dedicated to research.
- We look at staff salaries
- We see who serves on the board of directors.
- We look at ratings from organizations like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.
- And we check to see if their most recent 990 tax return is readily available.
As a donor, you have a lot of choices. Not all the choices are good ones. By supporting the best charities, you help accelerate the discovery of successful treatments and cures.
Watch our video on this topic here.